S-hole country: closer to home

January 19, 2018

The prophetic voice of Chris Hedges once  again. This brilliant journalist, also an ordained Presbyterian minister, once again reminds Americans of their awful history in “the American lake” of Central America.

 

The Monroe Doctrine (1823) warned other powers to stay out of the southern Americas. they belong to the USA

 

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A poster depicting the 1930s revolutionary and namesake of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), which was one of the main participants in the El Salvador war of the 1980s and ’90s.
I covered the war in El Salvador for five years. It was a peasant uprising by the dispossessed against the 14 ruling families and the handful of American corporations that ran El Salvador as if it was a plantation. Half of the population was landless. Laborers worked as serfs in the coffee plantations, the sugar cane fields and the cotton fields in appalling poverty. Attempts to organize and protest peacefully to combat the huge social inequality were met with violence, including fire from machine guns mounted on the tops of buildings in downtown San Salvador that rained down bullets indiscriminately on crowds of demonstrators. Peasant, labor, church and university leaders were kidnapped by death squads, brutally tortured and murdered, their mutilated bodies often left on roadsides for public view. When I arrived, the death squads were killing between 700 and 1,000 people a month.

 

An insurgent army arose, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (known by the Spanish-language abbreviation FMLN), named for the leader of a peasant uprising in 1932 that was crushed through the slaughter of thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, many of them killed in summary executions. The FMLN seized huge parts of the country from the corrupt and demoralized military. In the fall of 1983, the rebels, supplied with weapons from the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, were on the verge of capturing the country’s second largest city. I did not, at first, travel with the army. It was too dangerous. It was far safer to go into combat with the FMLN. Without outside intervention, the rebels would have seized control of El Salvador within months and ousted the oligarchs.

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But, far to the north, was a shithole country ruled by a former B-list movie actor who had starred in “Bedtime for Bonzo” and who was in the early stages of dementia. This shithole country, which saw the world in black and white, communist and capitalist, was determined to thwart the aspirations of the poor and the landless. It would not permit the profits of its companies, such as United Fruit, or the power of the pliant oligarch class that did its bidding in El Salvador, to be impeded. It had disdain for the aspirations of the poor, especially the poor of Latin American or Africa, the wretched of the earth, as writer Frantz Fanon called them, people who in the eyes of those who ruled the shithole country should toil in misery all their lives for the oligarchs and the big American companies allied with them. Let the poor, brown and black people go hungry, watch their children die of sickness or be murdered. Power and wealth, those who ruled this shithole country believed, was theirs by divine right. They, as the lords of shithole-dom, were endowed with special attributes. God blessed shithole countries.

The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda understood how those who ruled the shithole country looked at the wretched of the earth. He wrote:

When the trumpet sounded, it was
all prepared on the earth,
the Jehovah parceled out the earth
to Coca Cola, Inc., Anaconda,
Ford Motors, and other entities:
The Fruit Company, Inc.
reserved for itself the most succulent,
the central coast of my land,
the delicate waist of America.

It rechristened its territories
as the ‘Banana Republics’
and over the sleeping dead,
over the restless heroes,
who brought about the greatness, the liberty and the flags,
it established the comic opera:
Abolished independencies,
presented crowns of Caesar,
unsheathed envy, attracted
the dictatorship of flies. …

The dictatorship of flies had its downside. It elevated the imbecilic and the inept, men whose main attributes were brutality, mendacity and thievery. They were uniformly unpleasant creatures. Anastasio “Tachito” Somoza in Nicaragua. The Duvaliers in Haiti. Augusto Pinochet in Chile. Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala. These flies did the bidding of the shithole country. They would murder their own people without compunction and, for hefty bribes, would allow the corporations to exploit and pillage.

 

Yes, they had their eccentricities. The depraved often do. Gen. Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, who came to power in a military coup, led the government in El Salvador that carried out the 1932 massacres known as La Matanza. The general, a recluse who rarely appeared in public, was a believer in the occult and held séances in the presidential residence. He was one of the models for Gabriel García Márquez’s portrait of a Latin American tyrant in “The Autumn of the Patriarch.” Martínez styled himself after the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. He barred all immigration by Arabs, Hindus, Chinese and blacks. He once announced: “It is good that children go barefoot. That way they can better receive the beneficial effluvia of the planet, the vibrations of the earth. Plants and animals don’t use shoes.” And he said it was a greater crime to kill an ant than a human being “because a man who dies is reincarnated while an ant dies forever.” His solution to a measles epidemic was to order the streetlights wrapped in cellophane to purify the air. He believed that colored water could cure most illnesses.

 

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How surprised the leaders of the shithole country would be if they knew about the poets, the writers and the artists, the intellectuals and the men and women of great moral probity, such as the Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, who in 1980 was assassinated with a bullet shipped down to the killers from the shithole country. The leaders of the shithole country do not see the people of Latin America or Africa as fully human. But then they are not great readers, especially of poetry by the lesser breeds of the earth. They have not heard the truth of the Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton, who wrote:

Take care, you’re worth your weight in gold.
Because in capitalism only the owners
of gold are worth their weight in gold.

 

The shithole country poured $1 million a day in aid and weapons into the land. They sent down their most ruthless killers, including Félix Rodríguez, the CIA agent and Bay of Pigs veteran who had overseen the hunt for Che Guevara in Bolivia, presided over his execution and proudly wore the wristwatch he had taken from the martyred revolutionary’s body. At night you could see the killers sent to El Salvador by the shithole country, usually with their Vietnamese wives, sitting around the pool at the Sheraton Hotel. They had perfected the dark arts of infiltrating, torturing, interrogating, disappearing and murdering through practice on the people of Vietnam during the war there. They could teach you how to strangle someone with piano wire so there would be no noise as the victim choked to death. They brought many such skills with them to Central America. They directed the death squads to wipe out the resistance leaders, priests and nuns working in poor communities, teachers, journalists, labor organizers, student leaders, professors and intellectuals who denounced the barbarity.

 

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They trained and equipped new soldiers for the oligarchs. They formed mercenary units with hundreds of soldiers recruited from countries such as Honduras, Venezuela and Chile. They called these military units, which were secret, Unilaterally Controlled Latino Assets. They sent them to fight the FMLN because the Salvadoran military was so unreliable. They provided fleets of helicopters to hunt the insurgents by air. It was an orgy of militarism. By the time the shithole country was done, it had spent $4 billion to crush the uprising. And while it was orchestrating the bloodbath in El Salvador it provided $1 billion to the thugs and killers known as the Contras in Nicaragua, where 50,000 people were murdered. It also quietly assisted the killers of Guatemala, where 200,000 were slain. The poor peasants did not stand a chance. Mass graves dotted the Central American isthmus, a testament to their work.

Dalton wrote:

The dead are more insolent than ever.

It used to be easy:
we gave them a starched collar a flower
we placed their names on an honor roll:
the length and breath of our land
the illustrious shades of yesteryear
the monstrous statue.

The cadaver signed on memory’s dotted line
joined the rank and file once more
and marched to the beat of our worn out music

But what are you gonna do
the dead
just ain’t what they used to be.

These days they get ironic
ask questions.

Seems to me they’re starting to figure out
that they are the majority.

The leaders of the shithole country would oversee the murder of 80,000 people and 8,000 disappeared in El Salvador. Intelligence officials from the shithole country were, it appears, complicit in the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Romero, organized by a former Salvadoran army officer named Roberto D’Aubuisson—known affectionately as “Blowtorch Bob”—who was one of the shithole country’s favorite killers. The shithole country protected those who ordered the murder and rape of four American churchwomen in December 1980. They protected the officers of the Atlacatl Brigade—which in 1981 had massacred more than 700 civilians in El Mozote—when in 1989 they gunned down six Spanish Jesuit priests, one of whom was the rector of the University of Central America, plus their housekeeper and her teenage daughter, on the university campus. The Salvadoran officers who oversaw these massacres, and countless others, had been selected and trained in the shithole country’s U.S. Army School of the Americas. The war would destroy much of the infrastructure. El Salvador never recovered. It is awash in weapons. It experiences a murder every one and a half hours. Let the blood flow, the leaders of the shithole country said. The blood of brown and black people does not matter.

 

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A shithole country depends on your perspective.

 

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, New York Times best selling author, former professor at Princeton University, activist and ordained Presbyterian minister. He has written 11 books,…

 

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Russian Israelis: bad news

January 18, 2018

The intrepid researcher Norman Finkelstein sent out a letter he received from a Russian Israeli named Helen who happened to hear Finkelstein on Democracy Now.

 

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This is a fascinating analysis one which former president Bill Clinton in a rare moment of candour alluded to—in January of 2010 when he was safely out of office.

 

Clinton like Finkelstein’s Russian correspondent pointed out that Russian immigrant population in Israel is an obstacle to peace with Palestinians.

 

“An increasing number of the young people in the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] are the children of Russians and settlers, the hardest-core people against a division of the land. This presents a staggering problem,” Clinton told a roundtable with press in New York. “It’s a different Israel. Sixteen percent of Israelis speak Russian.”

Here is Helen

 

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You are a very good Jewish man, one of our best, one of the wisest. We value wisdom very much, it’s in our DNA! (The high regard for wisdom, that is). It is so impossibly hard for us to be good people now. And weeping seems to be the only possible action. Maybe putting ashes on your head is another option— it’s an old Jewish tradition. They are turning Palestine into the Warsaw Ghetto! Maybe it is in our DNA too? But I have another explanation.

 
You said today to Amy that Israel’s moral character begin to change since the 70s. This was the time when hundreds of thousands of Jews from the Soviet Union arrived there. And along with some of them, a long arm of Stalin extended all the way from his grave across the continents and planted hatred, immense intolerance, racism, and supremacy. Some young intellectuals came from Moscow and planted the extreme right-wing politics (they had had the seeds), and the greed, of the people who had been denied so much. Because when we were growing up in Worker’s Paradise, this was what we were indoctrinated with, all of the above. We got it with our mother’s milk. We were being taught that Individual Life has no meaning. No value, apart from being sacrificed for a worthy cost. What do you think this does to children? Only the “happiness” of the “future generations” matter.

 

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I don’t think of Israelis as Jews; they are just a regular settled tribe. Jews are a People without a land and without a temple. We hate persecution. We have invented the concept of Justice. You know what shrinks say: traumatized people have a powerful drive to recreate their traumas. And so they do. They are orchestrating the Warsaw Ghetto carnage in Palestine. With the help of some other sociopaths, the ones with power and money.

 

Let’s get maladjusted on MLK Day

January 15, 2018

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Today is Martin Luther King’s birthday, a national holiday celebrated on the third Monday in January. This is a part of a speech King gave in London, December 7, 1964, just days before he received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.

 

I have added the appropriate gospel quote from the first evangelist, Mark:

When his family[a heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
Mark 3:21

 

You know, there are certain words in every academic discipline that soon become stereotypes and clichés. Every academic discipline has its technical vocabulary. Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any other word in modern psychology. It is the word “maladjusted.” You’ve heard that word. This is the ringing cry of modern child psychology. And certainly we all want to live well-adjusted lives in order to avoid neurotic and schizophrenic personalities.

 

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But I must say to you this evening, my friends, as I come to a close, that there are some things in my own nation, and there are some things in the world, to which I am proud to be maladjusted and to which I call upon all men of goodwill to be maladjusted until the good society is realized. I must honestly say to you that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation, discrimination, colonialism and these particular forces. I must honestly say to you that I never intend to adjust myself to religious bigotry. I must honestly say to you that I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few.

 

I must say to you tonight that I never intend to become adjusted to the madness of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence, for in a day when Sputniks and explorers are dashing through outer space and guided ballistic missiles are carving highways of death through the stratosphere, no nation can win a war. It is no longer the choice between violence and nonviolence; it is either nonviolence or non-existence. And the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world, may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation. And I assure you that I will never adjust to the madness of militarism.

 

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Tamini drives Israelis wild

January 12, 2018

Jonathan Cook writes about Israel’s blood boil over the global response to 16 year old Ahed Tamini.

Producing a Gandhi? Israel makes sure any nonviolent protester is booted out of the country before any traction is gained.It is also surprising that Cook never mentioned that Tamini had just got word that her 15 year old cousin  had just got a rubber bullet in his head by some brave IDF soldier.

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Sixteen-year-old Ahed Tamimi may not be what Israelis had in mind when, over many years, they criticised Palestinians for not producing a Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela.
Eventually, colonised peoples bring to the fore a figure best suited to challenge the rotten values at the core of the society oppressing them. Ahed is well qualified for the task.
She was charged last week with assault and incitement after she slapped two heavily armed Israeli soldiers as they refused to leave the courtyard of her family home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah. Her mother, Nariman, is in detention for filming the incident. The video quickly went viral.

 

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Western commentators have largely denied Ahed the kind of effusive support offered to democracy protesters in places such as China and Iran. Nevertheless, this Palestinian schoolgirl – possibly facing a long jail term for defying her oppressors – has quickly become a social media icon.

 
While Ahed might have been previously unknown to most Israelis, she is a familiar face to Palestinians and campaigners around the world.
For years, she and other villagers have held a weekly confrontation with the Israeli army as it enforces the rule of Jewish settlers over Nabi Saleh. These settlers have forcibly taken over the village’s lands and ancient spring, a vital water source for a community that depends on farming.
Distinctive for her irrepressible blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, Ahed has been filmed regularly since she was a small girl confronting soldiers who tower above her. Such scenes inspired one veteran Israeli peace activist to anoint her Palestine’s Joan of Arc.
But few Israelis are so enamoured.
Not only does she defy Israeli stereotypes of a Palestinian, she has struck a blow against the self-deception of a highly militarised and masculine culture.
She has also given troubling form to the until-now anonymised Palestinian children Israel accuses of stone-throwing.
Palestinian villages like Nabi Saleh are regularly invaded by soldiers. Children are dragged from their beds in the middle of the night, as happened to Ahed during her arrest last month in retaliation for her slaps. Human rights groups document how children are routinely beaten and tortured in detention.

 
Many hundreds pass through Israeli jails each year charged with throwing stones. With conviction rates in Israeli military courts of more than 99 per cent, the guilt and incarceration of such children is a foregone conclusion.
They may be the lucky ones. Over the past 16 years, Israel’s army has killed on average 11 children a month.
The video of Ahed, screened repeatedly on Israeli TV, has threatened to upturn Israel’s self-image as David fighting an Arab Goliath. This explains the toxic outrage and indignation that has gripped Israel since the video aired.

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Predictably, Israeli politicians were incensed. Naftali Bennett, the education minister, called for Ahed to “end her life in jail”. Culture minister Miri Regev, a former army spokeswoman, said she felt personally “humiliated” and “crushed” by Ahed.
But more troubling is a media debate that has characterised the soldiers’ failure to beat Ahed in response to her slaps as a “national shame”.

 
The venerable television host Yaron London expressed astonishment that the soldiers “refrained from using their weapons” against her, wondering whether they “hesitated out of cowardice”.
But far more sinister were the threats from Ben Caspit, a leading Israeli analyst. In a column in Hebrew, he said Ahed’s actions made “every Israeli’s blood boil”. He proposed subjecting her to retribution “in the dark, without witnesses and cameras”, adding that his own form of revenge would lead to his certain detention.
That fantasy – of cold-bloodedly violating an incarcerated child – should have sickened every Israeli. And yet Caspit is still safely ensconced in his job.
But aside from exposing the sickness of a society addicted to dehumanising and oppressing Palestinians, including children, Ahed’s case raises the troubling question of what kind of resistance Israelis think Palestinians are permitted.
International law, at least, is clear. The United Nations has stated that people under occupation are allowed to use “all available means”, including armed struggle, to liberate themselves.
But Ahed, the villagers of Nabi Saleh and many Palestinians like them have preferred to adopt a different strategy – a confrontational, militant civil disobedience. Their resistance defies the occupier’s assumption that it is entitled to lord it over Palestinians.
Their approach contrasts strongly with the constant compromises and so-called “security cooperation” accepted by the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas.
According to Israeli commentator Gideon Levy, Ahed’s case demonstrates that Israelis deny Palestinians the right not only to use rockets, guns, knives or stones, but even to what he mockingly terms an “uprising of slappings”.
Ahed and Nabi Saleh have shown that popular unarmed resistance – if it is to discomfort Israel and the world – cannot afford to be passive or polite. It must be fearless, antagonistic and disruptive.

 

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Most of all, it must hold up a mirror to the oppressor. Ahed has exposed the gun-wielding bully lurking in the soul of too many Israelis. That is a lesson worthy of Gandhi or Mandela.
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Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

The Martyrdom of Gaza

January 11, 2018

There once again is Norman Finkelstein, a Jewish Jew, a mensch who has internalized universal values which are true “Jewish values.” Finkelstein is your consummate researcher, a man who drives thugs like Netanyahu crazy because he self-identifies as a Jew, one who lost family in the Nazi holocaust.
Why is it that we never see men like him on NBC, CBS or CNN? The answer is obvious.

 
We only see Finkelstein on shows like Democracy Now 10 A.M. 89.5 in the Toronto area, 5 days a week Monday to Friday or your local NPR station.The show is also available on streaming any time of day or night.It is hosted by another Jewish Jew, Amy Goodman, a fearless truth-seeking journalist.

 

Here Finkelstein writes about an extraordinary war crime, Gaza 2014, one which sent  many North American Jews right over the edge. The savagery exhibited by Israel over a penned up people, described as the world’s largest prison camp was so over the top that anybody with a conscience would recoil in disgust

 

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AMY GOODMAN: Our guest today, author and scholar Norman Finkelstein, author of the new book Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom, the book published as Israel is facing a possible International Criminal Court war crimes probe over its 2014 assault on Gaza, which killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, including over 500 children. I want to turn to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talking about the 2014 military offensive in Gaza. He was speaking to Brian Williams of NBC News.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: You know, at a certain point, you say, “What choice have you got? What would you do?” What would you do if American cities, where you’re sitting now, Brian, would be rocketed, would absorb hundreds of rockets? You know? You know what would—you’d say? You’d say to your leader, “A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.” And you’d say, “A country’s got to do what a country’s got to do.” We have to defend ourselves. We try to do it with the minimum amount of force or with targeting civil—military targets as best as we can. But we’ll act to defend ourselves. No country can live like this.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu justifying the 2014 military offensive in Gaza, that the International Criminal Court is apparently about to open up a war crimes investigation into.

 

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, Benjamin Netanyahu says two things: Number one, Israel had no option, and, number two, that it used the minimum amount of force. Well, let’s look quickly at those two points.

Point number one, everybody agreed that the reason they went—once the fighting began, Hamas had one goal. The goal was to end the siege of Gaza, to lift the siege. Under international law, that siege is illegal. It constitutes collective punishment,which is illegal under international law. The siege has been condemned by everybody in the international community. He had an option. He didn’t have to use force. He simply had to lift the siege. And then there wouldn’t have been a conflict with Gaza.

 

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Number two, he claims he used minimum force. There’s a lot to say about that. You can decide for yourself whether it’s minimum force when Israel leveled 18,000 homes. How many Israeli homes were leveled? One. Israel killed 550 children. How many Israeli children were killed? One. Now, you might say, “Well, that’s because Israel has a sophisticated civil defense system, or Israel has Iron Dome.” I won’t go into that; I don’t have time now. But there’s a simple test. The test is: What did the Israeli combatants themselves see? What did they themselves say?

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We have the documentation, a report put out by the Israeli ex-service—ex-combatant organization, Breaking the Silence. It’s about 110 pages. You couldn’t believe it. You know, I’ll tell you, Amy, I still remember when I was reading it. I was in Turkey. I was going to a book festival. I was sitting in the back of a car and reading these descriptions of what the soldiers did. My skin was crawling. I was like shaking. Soldier after soldier after soldier. Now, bear in mind, you want to say they’re partisan, the soldiers? Read the testimonies. They’re not contrite. They’re not remorseful. They’re just describing what happened. There’s no contrition. These aren’t lefties, supporters of BDS. What do they describe? One after another after another says, “Our orders were shoot to kill anything that moves and anything that doesn’t move.” One after another after another says, “Israel used insane amounts of firepower in Gaza. Israel used lunatic amounts of firepower in Gaza.”

AMY GOODMAN: These were the Israeli soldiers.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: The soldiers, they’re describing it. One after another says, “We blew up, destroyed, systematically, methodically razed every house in sight.” What does that mean, “every house in sight”? Seventy percent of the people in Gaza, they’re refugees. It means they lost their homeland. The last thing they have, the only thing they have, the only thing they’ve ever had, is their home. And the Israelis went in like a wrecking crew with their D9 bulldozers.

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AMY GOODMAN: Explain how it began.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: How what?

AMY GOODMAN: How the 2014 Israeli military invasion of Gaza began.

 

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: No, these are hard things to explain, because it depends on where you want to start. Where I start is, at the end of April 2014, a national unity government was formed between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. And the United States and the EU, surprisingly, they didn’t break off negotiations with this new unity government, although it “included a terrorist organization,” and it enraged Netanyahu.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re using air quotes. You’re saying what the U.S. called a terrorist organization.

 

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, what Israel calls a terrorist organization, because, at that time, the U.S. was willing to negotiate. And Netanyahu went into a rage, because he was being ignored over Iran, now he’s being ignored over Hamas. And so, he finds a pretext—I don’t want to go into the details now—he finds a pretext to try to provoke Hamas into reacting, so that he can say, “You see? They’re a terrorist organization.” And then it quickly spiraled downwards, as it typically does. And then Israel went in. There was the air assault.

 

And then, July 17th, the day the Malaysian airliner went down over the Ukraine, Netanyahu used that moment. The plane was downed in the afternoon, and he launches the ground invasion in the evening. You would be surprised how finely attuned the Israelis are to the American news cycle. They begin Operation Protective Edge in 2008 with Obama’s election to the presidency on November 4th. They begin the ground invasion of Gaza during—well, [ 2008 ] was Operation Cast Lead. They begin Cast Lead on November 4th, 2008, when Obama is elected president. They begin Operation Protective Edge, the ground invasion, on July 17th. When the airliner is downed over the Ukraine, all the cameras are now riveted over there, and so they launch the attack.

 

And the attack was—well, let me just quote to you Peter Maurer, who is the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross. And I was even surprised by his remark. Peter Maurer said—and I’m quoting him, paraphrasing him, but almost verbatim. He said, “In my entire professional life, I have never seen destruction as I saw in Gaza.” And that’s coming from the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who is accustomed to seeing, witnessing war zones. What was done there was—it was a crime against humanity. You take a place like Shejaiya. Shejaiya, it’s a very densely populated neighborhood of 90,000 people. Israel dropped, believe it or not—it’s hard to even fathom—more than 100 one-ton bombs on Shejaiya. More than 100 one-ton bombs on Shejaiya. Did the same thing to Rafah. Did the same thing to Khuza’a. Did the same thing to the whole Gaza Strip. And then you have this guy come along, and he said, “We used discriminate force. We used proportionate force.”

 

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to after the—an attack on a U.N. shelter in 2014, the Israeli military attacking, in Gaza, which killed many Palestinian civilians. The spokesperson for UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, broke down and cried during interview on Al Jazeera. His name is Christopher Gunness.

CHRISTOPHER GUNNESS: The rights of Palestinians, even their children, are wholesale denied, and it’s appalling.

AMY GOODMAN: Christopher Gunness is starting to cry.

CHRISTOPHER GUNNESS: [crying]

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Christopher Gunness, as the camera turns away from him, his head in his hands, later tweeting, “There are times when tears speak more eloquently than words. Mine pale into insignificance compared with Gaza’s.” Norman Finkelstein, we have two minutes left.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I happen to know Chris Gunness. He’s a really terrific guy. I hope he doesn’t lose his job because I said that. But he is a special guy. He’s an unusual guy. He worked in Gaza. He’s married to a man, he’s married to a Jewish man, and he’s married to an Israeli man. So you can imagine that Hamas was not thrilled with him. But he’s very principled, and the tears were real. Anybody who lives there, has even passed through there, their heart breaks at what’s been done to the people of Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think needs to be done now?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, it’s clear the first thing that has to be done is the siege has to be lifted. And the U.N. Human Rights Council, although its report was a total and complete whitewash and disgrace—Mary McGowan Davis was the author of it—they did say, according to the law, the siege has to be lifted immediately and unconditionally. That’s the law: has to be lifted immediately and unconditionally. That’s the first thing that has to be done. The siege has to end. The occupation has to end. And the people of Gaza, after 50 godforsaken years, should have the right to breathe and live a normal life.

AMY GOODMAN: And how do you think that’s going to happen?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: It’s a very tough moment right now, but there are always possibilities. In my opinion, there is the possibility in Gaza of a nonviolent mass resistance, trying to force open the checkpoints and the West Bank. I don’t have time to go through it now. I think a mass strategy of smacking Israeli soldiers—women and girls—in the footsteps of Ahed Tamimi, that kind of strategy—

AMY GOODMAN: Who faces many years in prison right now.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yes. Nobody’s saying it’s without risks.

AMY GOODMAN: Ten seconds.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: But just as the children of Gaza, when they threw stones at the Israelis in 1988 during the First Intifada, shifted international public opinion, I think the people—the women of Gaza, if they have a “Me Too” campaign—”I smacked an Israeli soldier today”—I think that can win international public opinion also.

AMY GOODMAN: You talked about a nonviolent campaign—

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah, I don’t consider—

AMY GOODMAN: —throughout the occupied areas.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Look, I’m in the tradition of Gandhi. And Gandhi was very clear: When you’re facing huge odds against you and you use kinds of force like scratching, slapping, kicking—

AMY GOODMAN: Three seconds.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: —Gandhi said that’s not violence. And I agree with him.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein, author of Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom.

Israel isn’t a democratic state: Amira Hass

January 9, 2018

One of the reason we love the prophets is their adamant refusal to trim their sails to the current wind. Anchored in the holy, they “ preach the word in season and out of season “ as Timothy says in the New Testament

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Heschel  with King at Selma

You cant buy these people.As Rabbi Heschel reminds us, “for them justice was the supreme manifestation of God…The prophet is a person who is not tolerant of wrongs done to others, who resents other people’s injuries.

I am always driven back to Heschel’s book the Prophets a book as contemporary as Jeremiah’s time, and indeed today. He reminds us:

The prophet is an iconoclast, challenging the apparently holy, revered and awesome. Beliefs cherished as certainties, institutions endowed with supreme sanctity,he exposes as scandalous pretensions.

Indeed there are prophets today in Israel/Palestine but sadly very few are numbered in official Judaism, a tragedy beyond compare.

With any sensitivity to the major Judaic prophets Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah and toss in Amos. All went after the putative leadership of their time

Heschel again:

The prophet knew that religion would distort what the Lord demanded of [wo]man, that priests themselves had committed perjury by bearing false witness, condoning violence, tolerating hatred , calling for ceremonies instead of bursting forth with wrath and indignation at cruelty, deceit, idolatry and violence.

The present state of Israel, a faux democracy if there ever was onem full of cruelty, deceit, idolatry and violence. is now gearing up to refuse entry to any organization or person who advocates BDS. Many American and European Jews of conscience of course are on the list and bravo for them, the true lovers of Israel who wish to save the state from even more cruelty and rampant injustice.

Now here is the bold Amira Hass an Haaretz reporter who dares to speak truth to power while rabbis in Israel and abroad twiddle their thumbs

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The blacklist’s authors are preparing the ground for worse steps – not against foreign nationals, but against Palestinians. Amira Hass Jan 08, 2018

The ban on entering the country that was imposed on activists from 20 international organizations is a badge of honor for them. For all the differences among these organizations in size, experience and background, and for all the political disagreements among them and with them, they deserve praise. They are successfully sabotaging the tendency to present the Palestinian problem as a purely humanitarian one, or as a symmetrical conflict between two supposedly equal powers.

 

That this blacklist was prepared by an Israeli ministry already proves one of the organizations’ claims: Israel isn’t a democratic state. A state that has ruled for 50 years already over millions of people who have no right to vote and are denied basic human rights like freedom of movement, the right to earn a living and freedom to demonstrate, doesn’t deserve the name democracy, even if its Jewish citizens can write for Haaretz and protest against corruption. Israel’s sadistic rule over the Palestinians

 

(including those within the pre-1967 lines) has millions of agents and tools. Human rights organizations can’t compete with all the resources of the state, which have been invested in agents and methods of dispossession. So the political call for sanctions and boycotts makes the necessary leap and proposes a single, conclusive and suitable response to Israeli oppression and persecution.

 
It is unlikely that the Strategic Affairs Ministry bureaucrats deluded themselves that a ban on entering Israel and the occupied territories would stop these organizations from continuing to call for international boycotts and sanctions against Israel, or against the settlements and their produce. After all, the activists base their political analysis and their program for stopping Israeli colonialism on information and testimony from readily available sources, and those sources will continue to be available even without the activists’ physical presence in the country.

 
But the authors of this blacklist aren’t stupid people bent on macho vengeance. They, too, are political thinkers, and they are continuing to prepare the ground for even worse steps – not against foreign nationals, but against the Palestinian people. Publication of the blacklist puts the countries where these organizations are based to a new test. Israel has been preventing their citizens from entering the West Bank and Gaza Strip (and not just its own sovereign territory) for a long time now, even if they never supported the BDS movement. It’s enough for them to be of Palestinian origin and to have relatives and property in the West Bank, or to want to study or teach at educational institutions in the West Bank, for their entry to be banned. Many of the people who have been denied entry are American or Jordanian citizens.

 

But the United States, Europe and Jordan haven’t made much effort to defend two basic principles: equal treatment for their citizens regardless of differences in their ethnicity, i.e. Jews versus non-Jews, or differences in the purpose of their visit, i.e. a visit to Ramallah versus a visit to the settlement of Beit El; and symmetrical application of the right of visa-free entry. After all, millions of Israelis enter Europe and Jordan with no problem, including some who were involved in perpetrating war crimes or other violations of international law: pilots, army commanders, settlers.

 
Donald Trump’s America won’t be shocked if Jewish members of the pacifist organization Code Pink or Quaker Christians are barred from entering Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. But what about France, England, Norway and other European countries? Several European countries, under pressure from or at the instigation of Israeli and Jewish lobbies, already ban democratic calls for sanctions on Israel due to the disgraceful equation of criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. It’s hard to imagine them taking action against the new blacklist.

 

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Israel is taking the international community’s pulse. The measuring device is the sanctions against these organizations, and the goal is our freedom to uproot people, to demolish and steal. In this shrewd manner, Israel is examining how it can deprive the Palestinians of additional basic rights – including through mass expulsions – without the so-called democratic world stopping it. Amira Hass Haaretz Correspondent

Jews of conscience blacklisted

January 8, 2018

I’m a U.S. Jew on Israel’s BDS Blacklist. I Have Family in Israel. But I Won’t Be Silenced Israel wants to intimidate the growing numbers of Jews fighting for equality and freedom for all people in Israel/Palestine. It won’t work

Rebecca Vilkomerson Jan 07, 2018

The first time I went to Israel I was four months old. Throughout my childhood and young adulthood I visited regularly: My grandparents, in Haifa; and my aunt, uncle and cousins, on a religious kibbutz near the Jordanian border. There was no place, with the exception of the town where I grew up, to which I felt more connected. As an adult, married to an Israeli, we spent three years living in Tel Aviv with our two young daughters, who also have Israeli citizenship.

 

REBEK Rebecca Vilkomerson (right) in July 2016 with Caroline Hunter, who was part of the movement to end apartheid in South Africa.JVP In March last year, the Israeli Knesset passed a bill that forbids entry to “foreign nationals who call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts of either Israel or the settlements,” and yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that as a result 20 organizations have been placed on a blacklist that would prohibit entry specifically to its leaders. That list was published in full Sunday. Jewish Voice for Peace, the organization of which I am executive director, is one of the organizations named.

 

Despite the fact that my grandparents are buried there, that my aging in-laws still live there, and my extensive ties of friendship and family, my support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) for Palestinian rights now excludes me from Israel.   BDS is a call from Palestinian civil society to build a global movement to pressure Israel to end the occupation, offer full equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and allow Palestinian refugees the right to return. The BDS movement is inspired by the tradition of nonviolent resistance to oppression, and draws on the example of the movement to divest from South African apartheid and other examples of targeted economic and cultural pressure to achieve justice. It could not be more clear from this most recent move that the rising global tide of support for BDS deeply alarms Israel, which recognizes it as a potent tool to change the status quo of Palestinian dispossession that has been an integral part of Israeli statehood.

 

The Israeli ban formally expands the prohibitions it already imposed below the radar for decades – based on categories of citizenship, religious and ethnic identity – to apply to political positions. In other words, while Israel had already routinely denied entry based on racial profiling, it is now proudly declaring a blanket ban which is overtly anti-democratic.   While I am personally feeling the pain of exclusion for the first time from a place that I am bound to by deep ties, I am very aware that Palestinians have faced profiling and bans on entry to Israel, and in particular, a categorical rejection of the right of return as refugees, since the founding of the state.

 

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As the progressive movement here in the U.S. rallies on behalf of the rights of refugees and people targeted for their identities, it is an important reminder that Israel has been pursuing similar policies for decades. The many Jewish organizations that have admirably joined efforts to end the Arab and Muslim ban in the U.S. should equally vociferously object to Israel’s decision to restrict entry by political position.

 

In fact, the greatest impact of Israel’s new law will likely be on Palestinians -inside Israel, in the occupied territories, and in the diaspora. Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem or abroad who are married to Israeli citizens, for example, may be forced between not traveling abroad at all or finding themselves in exile when they attempt to return. Those who want to enter Israel for medical treatment or family reunification may find it impossible. And Palestinians around the world who speak up for their rights, and who have already faced arbitrary rejections upon attempting to enter, now face an official policy that will exclude them from their homeland.

 

END

The public naming of JVP on this list is significant. Clearly, the Israeli government is very aware that increasing numbers of Jews and all people worldwide support the BDS movement, and are seeking to intimidate and coerce us into silence. It will not work. JVP members have no doubt about the justice of fighting for equality and freedom for all people in Israel/Palestine, and the legitimacy and efficacy of BDS to bring that day closer. As long as Israel continues to violate the fundamental rights of Palestinians, people will continue to speak out -Palestinians, Jews, and people of conscience the world over.

 

Rebecca Vilkomerson is the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Blowback: long term consequences

January 6, 2018

New York state has always been the centre of bending the knee to Israel. It cost Bobby Kennedy his life when a deranged Palestinian shot him. Sirhan Sirhan was simply part of the blowback for the US Middle East policies.
Stephen Kinzer former NYTimes correspondent who wrote the best book on the US 1954 coup in Guatemala, wrote about Sirhan’s troubled life:

Sirhan_Sirhan
“I can explain!” Sirhan cried out as he was arrested. “I did it for my country!” At the time, that seemed to be no more than the raving of what one American newspaper called “a mad man”. Now that the word understands much more about the upheaval that produced Sirhan, it sounds quite different.

 

Sirhan was not simply a “Jordanian citizen”, as he was called at the time. He was an embittered Palestinian who had been born in 1944 to a Christian family in Jerusalem. During the war that broke out when he was four years old, Jewish insurgents seized his house, and his family was forced to flee. He was nearly killed in an Irgun bombing at the Damascus Gate, and witnessed other violent attacks that deeply traumatised him.

 

As a young refugee, Sirhan attended a school where teachers exhorted students to struggle for Palestinian rights. Later his family moved to California, and he was there when Israel seized East Jerusalem and other Arab territories in the Six-Day War of 1967. He told at a friend that he believed Fatah was justified in using terror to oppose Israeli rule.

 

During the 1968 presidential campaign, Sirhan came to identify Robert Kennedy, who he had originally supported, as a friend of Israel. Three weeks before committing his crime, he watched a documentary about Kennedy’s involvement with Israel on CBS television. Soon afterward he heard a radio tape of Kennedy telling an audience at a Los Angeles synagogue that he would maintain “clear and compelling” support for Israel. After hearing it, a relative later testified, Sirhan ran from the room with “his hands on his ears, and almost weeping”.

 

Sirhan timed his attack on Kennedy to coincide with the first anniversary of the opening of the Six-Day War. At his trial, he sought several times to place his crime in the Palestinian context. “When you move a whole country, a whole people, bodily from their own homes, from their land, from their business,” he said, “that is completely wrong … . That burned the hell out of me.” Few Americans had any idea what he was talking about.

 

“The source of his rage, bitterness, and anger at ‘Jews’ was not explained in most news stories,” Mel Ayton, one of the few analysts who has fully grasped the crime’s Middle East connection, wrote in his 2007 book The Forgotten Terrorist: Sirhan Sirhan and the Assassination of Robert F Kennedy. “In those days most Americans had no idea what a ‘Palestinian’ was and even fewer understood their grievances.”

 

When news of Sirhan’s background was flashed back to the Arab world after he killed Kennedy, many people there instinctively understood what had happened. They recognised the crime as a horrific expression of the violent frustration that young Palestinians were beginning to feel. Almost no one in the rest of the world, however, understood this.

 

Foreign interventions and entanglements often produce unpredictable, even unimaginable long-term consequences. The murder of Robert Kennedy is one example. If Israel had never come into existence, or if the United States had not supported it, or if Kennedy had not reaffirmed that support, Sirhan would probably never have pulled his trigger.

 

Other New York pols thankfully have escaped assassination but from Hilary Clinton to mayor Bill deBlasio, senator Chuck Schumer to governor Andrew Cuomo all have been craven idolators of apartheid Israel, placing their blind support for an oppressive and racist state for political gain.

 

 

When deBlasio accepted a freebee from Israeli businessman Baruch Eliezer Gross in October 2015 Jewish Voice for Peace challenged the mayor:

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“We urge you to consider the risk that your office is being exploited,” they wrote.

“While combating anti-Semitism, along with all forms of racism and discrimination, is a valid goal, we write to register our concern that you, as mayor of New York City, are choosing to follow the ritual of New York politicians who travel to Israel — and do so with political blinders on,” the groups added. “For us, as New York City residents and voters engaged in critiquing Israeli policies and supporting those who are charged with ‘anti-Semitism’ for doing so, this news raises some troubling issues.”

 

“The false charges of ‘anti-Semitism’ have been repeatedly used by Israel advocacy groups to smear and silence peaceful, lawful organizations, scholars, and students in the US for speaking out against Israel’s policies — policies that many Israeli Jews also oppose,” they wrote. “We expect you would be sensitive to this reactionary tactic — and resist it. Ultimately, the tactic is used to justify or evade Israel’s widely condemned violations of international human rights and to vilify groups that support Palestinian demands for justice.”

“We must ask whether you have considered questions that would be natural for a mayor who asserts a commitment to voices of marginalized communities: Will your audience in Jerusalem include any Palestinian mayors from the West Bank? Will your talk address Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian attacks as well as anti-Semitism? Would you consider modifying the itinerary of your three days in Israel to include a visit to Palestinian areas in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, to Hebron, to border checkpoints, so you might witness the brutal conditions that Palestinians in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory are subjected to on a daily basis?” they asked.

 

deBlasio just another zionist stooge said No

 

Occupation makes you stupid

January 1, 2018

Uri Avnery may be 94 but he has not lost his acerbic wit. His New Year’s column

 

Opinion Joan of Arc in a West Bank Village The Israeli army wants to punish Ahed Tamimi ‘so all should see and fear.’ Instead, Palestinian teenagers see the photos and think: I want to be like her   She’s 16, from a family of peasants in an isolated village. The foreign occupation outraged her, and she set out to fight it. Her actions excited her oppressed people, whose spirits rose from the depths of despair to renewed hope. She was captured by her occupiers, who imprisoned and prosecuted her. You’re probably thinking I mean 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi, who slapped the face of an Israel Defense Forces officer. But actually, I’m referring to Joan of Arc, known as “the maid of Orléans.”

 

It happened 600 years ago, in the midst of the Hundred Years War between the British and the French. The British invaders had the upper hand and the French were convinced that all was lost, when something amazing happened. In a remote village in northern France, a peasant girl rose up who could neither read nor write, and announced that she had received a message from heaven. God had assigned her to save France. Somehow she managed to reach the court of the king (who had yet to be crowned) and somehow she persuaded him to send her out with his army that was fighting for the city of Orléans. Dressed in armor and carrying a flag, Joan of Arc put herself at the helm of the overwhelmed fighters, and so inspired them that they won the critical battle for the city.

 

It was the turning point of the war. The French began to win battles, and the maid of Orléans was at the king’s side when he was finally crowned. But her luck didn’t hold out; as the battles continued she fell to the British, who tried her and burned her at the stake. If the British thought they were thus rid of the annoying young woman, they had made a historic mistake. Joan of Arc was pronounced a saint by the Catholic Church and became a French national symbol and a role model who animated generations of warriors. Under her banner France became a world power. The greatest of writers and artists created masterpieces about her. The maid of Orléans affair is considered one of the worst blunders in British history. But were the judges who convicted her all dimwits? Of course not. One can assume that among them were intelligent men – statesmen, warriors and clergy. If so, why did they act so stupidly? Actually, they had no choice.

 

Hundreds of years later, Britain’s Lord Acton would say, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I would paraphrase this by saying, “Ruling power tends to make one stupid, absolute ruling power makes one totally stupid.” And there is no stupider ruling power than an occupation regime.

 

Voice

 

Which brings us to Ahed Tamimi of Nabi Saleh. Now the whole world knows her name. The whole world has seen her picture. And this is only the beginning. Tamimi is becoming the Palestinian Joan of Arc before our eyes. The internet is spreading throughout the world a photograph of her in a heroic pose, holding a flying Palestinian flag. Soldiers, a captain and a sergeant, had stationed themselves in the courtyard of her home. She approached them, accompanied by her mother and cousin, and cursed them vehemently. They didn’t move. She hit the officer. He didn’t move. She slapped him across the face. He protected his face, but didn’t move. That officer is the only smart Israeli in this whole story. He and his comrade, the sergeant, backed away. An intelligent occupation would have treated the incident with humor, and thus the affair could have ended. But the occupation regime isn’t capable of just letting it go that way, especially since the girl’s family members filmed the incident. The occupation has no sense of humor.

 

HR

 

Soon Ahed was taken from her bed at night, as were her mother and sister. They were brought before a military judge who extended their detention. She is being held in humiliating conditions, was moved from lockup to lockup, and hasn’t been allowed to change clothes for a week. In the courtroom three soldiers were positioned in front of her father’s seat so that he wouldn’t be able to look at his daughter. The army’s behavior is clear. It wants to punish the girl “so all should see and fear.” A teenage girl who slapped an Israel Defense Forces soldier must be punished so that tens of thousands of teenagers learn a lesson. In our country you can’t burn girls at the stake, as with the original Joan of Arc. We’re more humane, but no smarter. We can lock her up. This was indeed totally stupid.

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Thousands of Palestinian teenagers see the photos and their hearts swell with pride. Look how one of our own dared to confront the occupation. I want to be like her. Absolute ruling power makes you totally stupid. It can’t be helped.  When I was Ahed’s age, I worked in the office of a lawyer, an Oxford graduate. Among our clients were some of the leading lights of the British administration in this land. Almost all of them were nice guys, polite and pleasant even to me, a lowly clerk. And I, who was already a member of the Irgun paramilitary organization, asked myself again and again, how is it possible? How could such pleasant, cultured people maintain such an idiotic occupation? The only answer I could come up with was the aforementioned paraphrase of Lord Acton. The British regime was stupid. All its underlings – governors, officers and judges – acted stupidly. Most of them were intelligent, educated, pleasant people. But they were doomed to act stupidly, because that’s what happens when you control another people.

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You have no choice. Ahed Tamimi was apparently chosen by a higher power for the role she is fulfilling. She’s strawberry blond, like most of the girls in her village, blue-eyed and brave. Abusing her in jail will only enhance her ability to impress others her age who are living under occupation. I’m sure that among both the civilians and officers managing the occupation of the Palestinian territories, there are a lot of intelligent people. But it can’t be helped. Occupation makes you stupid. In the end, this stupidity will bring us down.

Uri Avnery Haaretz Contributor

 

 

Canada morally asleep in Palestine

December 29, 2017

The Sage of Vancouver Island Phil Little sends this wake-up call to the craven Liberal government

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland,
Ambassador Marc-André Blanchard, Canada’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Hon.Sheila Malcolmson, MP Nanaimo

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister Freeland, and Ambassador Blanchard,

OCC^^

I write to you to say that your shameful decision on December 21, 2017 by Canada to abstain from the emergency United Nations General Assembly Resolution “Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory: draft resolution (A/ES-10/L.22)” continues a morally reprehensible pattern of votes at the UN that the Trudeau government has continued from the Harper era.
I also write to express our horror about the situation on the ground in Palestine: specifically, that the state of Israel holds the distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes children in military courts lacking fundamental fair trial rights.  In the couple of weeks since the Trump government’s illegal decision to name Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish state of Israel, the belligerent use of military law in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) has escalated with 170 such detentions of children. This is a sharp escalation from the usual approximately 700 children prosecuted in military courts annually.

Canada’s track record at the United Nations is Appalling

I want to be clear–Canada’s decision to abstain was irresponsible to say the least. To be silent is to be complicit.  Would you support the bystander who says, “I can’t get involved” when the schoolyard bully is joined by his big brother, the neighbourhood bully, to say “we will take away all your lunches if you don’t join our gang in terrorizing others?”  Surely not.  You would expect the bystander to use whatever strength and influence they have to stand in solidarity with the victims.
Whether it is a vote against or an abstention, the Trudeau government’s UN voting record is contrary to Canada’s own stated foreign policy about Palestine.   Does the Liberal Trudeau government really wish to carry on in the Harper conservative mode?

 

I call on the Liberal government along with other political parties to take emergency and urgent steps to join the rest of the world in standing for international law and universal human rights for all people including the people of Palestine.

 

HR

 

In addition to the abstention on December 21, 2017, on December 19, 2017, Canada voted against a UN General Assembly resolution on the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. On November 30, 2017, Canada voted against the UN General Assembly motion that “any actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever.” All our other allies, including European Union states, Australia, and Japan, voted in favour of the motions on December 19 and November 30.  Canada continues to clearly stand out as the only G20 country other than the USA in the six or seven countries that consistently vote against human rights and international law for Palestine.

 

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As the NDP said in its statement of December 20, 2017: “How can Canada claim to champion a rules-based multilateral order when the Liberal government continues to refuse to uphold international law?”  I ask the NDP to show courageous leadership to speak truth to power.  I ask Green Party Leader Elizabeth May to stand with her own party’s policy related to Palestine, and the Bloc Québécois to continue to speak publicly as they did in May 2017 for Palestinian self-determination.

 

Does Canada really wish to follow the call from Israel and the USA to follow an anachronistic, outdated model that does not

 

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Perhaps the answer to the UN voting record is that the Canadian government is out of line with public opinion when it comes to Palestine.  In a March 2017 EKOS poll, Canadians indicated they believe overwhelmingly that sanctions are a reasonable way for Canada to censure countries violating international law and human rights, and a strong majority of Canadians believe that government sanctions on Israel would be reasonable. In the context of Israel’s ongoing violations of international law, a very strong majority of Canadians believe that the Palestinians’ call for a boycott of the state of Israel is reasonable.
I call on you to speak out clearly that the Canadian government will take steps to bring its voting at the UN in line with the rest of the world, and not tie itself to voting with the US and Israel.  Regardless of partisan affiliation, I remind all federal elected members of parliament and all federal senators that to follow party lines is not acceptable, when issues of international law and universal human rights are at risk, and so ask you to stand with the people in your constituencies and across the country and world in calling for justice for all people including the people of Palestine.

No Way to Treat a Child
At this perilous time, we call the government of Canada to take specific, urgent action to stand with the children and youth of Palestine.  Specifically, this is the time for civil society around the world to call the Israeli government to account for their illegal, immoral and belligerent use of military law on children.

 

Tamini
Over the holiday the world’s attention has been on one family, the Tamimi family, whose 16-year daughter, mother, 21 year old niece, along with 17 members of the community, Nabi Saleh, have been arrested after a 14 year-old Tamimi cousin was gravely injured by a metal rubber-covered bullet shot in his face by the Israeli military.  This is not an isolated situation, but part of a brutal, systemic illegal occupation.

In fact, Canadian University of Western law professional and special rapporteur for the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, Michael Lynk has provided a framework to the UN on October 27, 2017 that shows Israel to be an “illegal occupant” based on the i) length of occupation; ii) annexation of occupied territory; iii) lack of responsibility of trustee as occupied; and iv) lack of good faith.

Israel is the only state that systemically uses military law against children and youth.  Not only is this against international law, the United Nations Conventions for the Rights of Children, it is also against international humanitarian law.  In the couple of weeks since the US Trump indication that they were naming Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish state of Israel, 170 youth and children have been detained under military law according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society. These individuals join 10,000 children and youth that have been arrested in Israeli-occupied Palestine since 2000.  Each year between 500 and 700 children are arrested without the most basic legal rights such as denial of a lawyer and without parents being present; this while being tortured, forced to sign confessions in Hebrew, a language the children do not know, and denial of basic rights like going to the washroom and being provided food.
The No Way to Treat a Child campaign began in Canada in July 2017, and so far more than 25 organizations across the country have joined as sponsors.  The campaign in the US is several years old, and in November 2017 resulted in legislation being introduced in the United States’ Congress in a Bill calling for promoting human rights by ending Israeli military detention of Palestinian children, in particular the use of US taxpayers’ money detain and torture children.

The No Way to Treat a Child campaign is based on the work on the ground and in the military courts by the human rights legal organization for children, Defence for Children International-Palestine.

As a federal member of Parliament, I ask you to call that steps to be taken immediately by the Canadian government to let Israel know that it needs to stop the use of military law on Palestinian youth and children.

 

In making this call I remind you that:

1.    Israel ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on October 3, 1991, which states in:

·       Article 37(a), that ‘‘no child shall be subject to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’’;

·       Article 37(b), that the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child ‘‘shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time’’;

·       Article 37(c), that ‘‘every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or heritage’’; and

·       Article 37(d), that ‘‘[e]very child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action’’.
2.    In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, there are two separate legal systems, with Israeli military law imposed on Palestinians and Israeli civilian law applied to Israeli settlers.
3.    The Israeli military detains around 500 to 700 Palestinian children between the ages of 12 and 17 each year and prosecutes them before a military court system that lacks basic and fundamental guarantees of due process in violation of international standards.
4.    Approximately 2,700,000 Palestinians live in the West Bank of Palestine, of which around 13% are children under the age of 18, who live under military occupation, the constant fear of arrest, detention, and violence by the Israeli military, and the threat of recruitment by armed groups.
5.    That since 2000, an estimated 10,000 Palestinian children have been detained by Israeli security forces in the West Bank of Palestine and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system.
6.    Children under the age of 12 cannot be prosecuted in Israeli military courts. However, Israeli military forces detain children under the age of 12 and question them, for several hours, before releasing them to their families or to Palestinian authorities.
7.    Human Rights Watch documented, in a July 2015 report titled ‘‘Israel: Security Forces Abuse Palestinian Children’,’ that such detention also included the use of chokeholds, beatings, an coercive interrogation on children between the ages of 11 and 15 years.
8.    The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) concluded, in a February 2013 report entitled ‘‘Children in Israeli Military Detention,’’ that the ‘‘ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process, from the moment of arrest until the child’s prosecution and eventual conviction and sentencing.’’

 

The 2013 UNICEF report further determines that the Israeli system of military detention of Palestinian children profoundly deviates from international norms, stating that ‘‘in no other country are children systematically tried by juvenile military courts that, by definition, fall short of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure respect for their rights.’’

 

UNICEF also released reports in October, 2013 and February, 2015 noting that Israeli authorities have, since March 2013, issued new military orders and taken steps to reinforce existing military and police standard operating procedures relating to the detention of Palestinian children. However, the reports still found continued and persistent evidence of ill-treatment of Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces.
9.       In 2013, the annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the Occupied Territories (‘‘Annual Report’’) published by the Department of State noted that Israeli security services continued to abuse, and in some cases torture minors, frequently arrested on suspicion of stone throwing, in order to coerce confessions. The torture tactics used included threats, intimidation, long-term handcuffing, beatings, and solitary confinement.
The 2013 Annual Report also stated that ‘‘signed confessions by Palestinian minors, written in Hebrew, a language most could not read, continued to be used as evidence against them in Israeli military courts.’’
The 2016 Annual Report noted a ‘‘significant increase in detentions of minors’’ in 2016, and that ‘‘Israeli authorities continued to use confessions signed by Palestinian minors, written in Hebrew.’’ It also highlighted the renewed use of ‘‘administrative detention’’ against Palestinians, including children, a practice in which a detainee may be held indefinitely without charge or trial, by the order of a military commander or other government official.
10.      The nongovernmental organization Defense for Children International Palestine collected affidavits from 429 West Bank children who were detained between 2012 and 2015, and concluded that: i) three-quarters of the children endured physical violence following arrest; ii) under Israeli military law, children do not have the right to a lawyer during interrogation; iii) 97 percent of the children did not have a parent present during their interrogation; iv) 84 percent of the children were not properly informed of their rights by Israeli police; v) interrogators used stress positions, vi) threats of violence, and isolation to coerce confessions from detained children; and v) 66 children were held in pre-trial, pre-charge isolation for interrogation purposes for an average period of 13 days.
11.    Amendments to Israeli military law concerning the detention of Palestinian children have had little to no impact on the treatment of children during the first 24 to 48 hours after an arrest, when the majority of their ill-treatment occurs.
12.     In 2002, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, which monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, reviewed Israel’s compliance with the Convention and expressed serious concern regarding ‘‘allegations and complaints of inhuman or degrading practices and of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian children’’ during arrest, interrogation, and detention.
In 2013, the Committee declared that Palestinian children arrested by Israeli forces ‘‘continue to be systematically subject to degrading treatment, and often to acts of torture’’ and that Israel had‘ ‘fully disregarded’’ the previous recommendations of the Committee to comply with international law.

Based on these dozen points:
I clearly speak against any Canadian taxpayer funds being used to support the military of Palestinian children, as the prosecution of Palestinian children in a military court system by the Government of Israel: violates international law and internationally recognized standards of human rights; and is contrary to Canadian values of human rights, equity and dignity for all people.
I ask the government of Canada to immediately take urgent steps to let Israel know that any relationships with Canada are dependent on Israel stopping immediately the military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children in violation of international humanitarian law including stopping the use against Palestinian children of any of the following practices:

 

·       Torture or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment.
·       Physical violence, including restraint in stress positions.
·       Hooding, sensory deprivation, death threats, or other forms of psychological abuse.
·       Incommunicado detention or solitary confinement.
·       Administrative detention, as described in 26 section 2(13).
·       Denial of access to parents or legal counsel during interrogations.
·       Confessions obtained by force or coercion.
Minister Freeland and Ambassador Marc-André Blanchard, on December 21, 2017, you asked for “calm.”  I also understand Ambassador Blanchard you have indicated Canada will be attending Nikki Haley’s post-vote Jerusalem celebration party.  The continued Canada voting record at the United Nations and the situation on the ground of Israeli military terror against Palestine, including its children, is not something to be either calm about or to celebrate.
Canada has an obligation based on Article 1 of the Geneva Convention which requires that Canada take actions to “’ensure compliance’ with the Geneva Convention by other High Contracting Parties.”   This means clear condemnation of any nation that names Jerusalem as capital of the state of Israel, and to move forward with urgent action to put Israel on notice that its use of military law is against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and that the government of Canada insists that the use of military law in regard to children in the oPt stop immediately.

 

Sincerely,

Phil Little and Anne Marie McDonell
10846 Grandview Road
Ladysmith, B.C. V9G1Z7

telephone 2502457245
email sacolargo@gmail.com

Michael Bosner, Minister-Counsellor to Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations
Foreign Affairs and International Development Government Standing Committee c/o Chair Robert D. Nault
Justice and Human Rights Government Standing Committee c/o Chair, Anthony Housefather
Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Group c/o Chair, MP Tabbara
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Senate Standing Committee, c/o Chair A. Raynell Adreychuk
Human Rights Senate Standing Committee, c/o Chair Wanda Elaine Thomas Bernard
Leader of Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth May
Leader of Conservative Party of Canada, Andrew Scheer
Leader of NDP, Jagmeet Singh
NDP Foreign Affairs Critic, Hélène Laverdière
Conservative Party of Canada Foreign Affairs Critic, Erin O’Toole
Bloc Québécois Foreign Affairs Critic, Luc Thériault
Deborah Lyons: Canadian Ambassador to Israel
Douglas Proudfoot: Representative of Canada to the Palestinian Authority
Nabil Maroof: Chief Representative, Palestinian General Delegation, Palestinian Delegation to Canada